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How to deal and live with a binge drinker
Hi, i'm desperately seeking some advice. My husband has always had seasons of binge drinking. He doesn't drink daily, or with friends but goes through cycles of having 2 one week, 2 next week, then 4 then a big binge. This has been happening for yearsAfter a big binge he goes through what i call a 'shame spiral' spends the day in bed feeling sorry for himself, telling me & our children (age 7 &10 years) that he'll never do it again & he just cant drink. A few weeks pass & it slowly starts again.
Years back he was outside in the street naked & hurt...someone called the police & ambulance, my children saw the whole thing, as a result DHHS interviewed my children. He had to see a psychologist who told him he doesn't have a problem with alcohol. Most times this happens when i'm not home & he has a day off. i find him tipsy & i try to keep the kids & house calm so it doesn't end with us arguing. we all pray that he falls asleep so there are no dramas.Yesterday i was at work all day & came home to him very drunk. Both children were home with him & by the time i got home they were both in tears scared. More scared for their dad who they love with their whole hearts, they don't want him to hurt himself.
I feel stuck. when things are good, they're great! He's a very loving father & husband Problem is these great times don't last long & happen so frequently that they're now totally being overshadowed by these hard times. He's so bitter & angry with the world & has totally isolated himself from others. He has no 'mates', isn't close to his family members & people who we see occasionally wouldn't feel comfortable approaching him about any of these issues. Mostly i keep them to myself..as i don't want my family to think negatively about him.
Basically im wanting to know where to start. He says he wants help but i've told him i can't help him. If he doesn't go see someone or talk to anyone about it..how can i help? Saying he just wont drink only works short term.
Would a GP be a place to start?
Where can get some support and work out some options for what to do? What should i do with him when hes drunk? I have in the past taken the kids to my parents and we've slept there.. but then they stress all night if dad is ok Plus its not fair to them to have to leave their bed and involve others in his problems.
I feel so alone and i don't know where to start with keeping my children safe and also keep our family together.
thanks for any advice
Wow, you poor thing, you have a lot to deal with, it must be so hard for you worrying about your husband and your children, and probably no time to even think about yourself!
I do think a GP visit is a good idea, they can offer you and your family support and give you some great resources.
I know it is hard to ask for help, and also that you don't want people to think negatively about your husband because you love him and also he isn't always drinking, but the most important thing is your welfare and your children's welfare too. The first thing you need to do, is to always make sure you feel safe. If you don't feel safe at home with him, definitely take the kids to your parents or a friends, or if possible (to limit the impact on your children) ask him to leave and come back when he is sober.
Perhaps when he is his normal self (loving, good father etc) you can put in place a plan, so that he won't be angry or offended if you ask him to leave as I don't want him taking out his anger on you. Just explain that you are not kicking him out, just that you expect anyone near you and your children to be in control. If he is not in control, he should not be near you.
If needs be, do call the police, they will most likely take him in for a night to sober up and release him the next day (just so that he isn't on the streets and potentially in danger himself). This may be a wake-up call to him that this is a serious issue and he can't just keep going back on his promises. Show him you mean business as you have every right to assert yourself and protect your family.
Is there a trigger that makes him drink to excess? If he doesn't do it all the time, perhaps there is something that keeps setting him off? If you can find out what it is and stop this, maybe he won't binge?
I do think he should get some help from a psych, he must be dealing with something (although in the wrong way).
Don't forget to look after yourself too, maybe look up womens groups, as people in a similar circumstance will certainly not judge but just be there to help if you need a safe place to go.
Hope this helps xoxo
You are so brave to write to us and look the problems in your family squarely in the eye. It is really confronting to put it all down on paper and expose whats really going on.
I can see the dilemma you have .. You love him and you want to be a “good wife” , a “supportive wife” and not humiliate or shame him by demonising him .
My conjecture is that you can love the man but hate the addiction .
You can absolutely be committed to your marriage and your husband and welcome him with open arms , but close the door completely in the face of his unsafe behaviours.
You have to sit with him and name it, but first you have to sit with yourself and name it . No more excuses. He has a problem with alcohol . Lets be absolutely clear about that. He is causing fear, distrust, disruption, denial, and most telling that circle of seeming control , then relapse , shame , remorse and then seeming control and round and round...
If you are unsure how to approach this , seek help from your GP or from a support group like AL-anon who most likely have all been in your shoes before.
If he denies that he has a problem and he will be ok from now … remember that this is his addiction/illness talking . It is an unconscious yet powerful part of his brain that works hard to maintain the status quo . It will work hard to maintain its position in his head, so it creates excuses to allow him to repeat the behaviours , it creates justifications for the lapses , it vindicates , it tries to sooth him after so he can do it again .. He is under its spell, but you dont need to be, and you should not enable this nasty addiction.
If you have any doubt that you need to do something read the article below about the effect of having an alcoholic in a family . It is terrifying for children to live with a “Jeckyl and Hyde” parent. I dont mean to frighten you and I dont think all of these things apply to your family but sometimes appealing to the wellbeing of the children is a way in to getting real change . He seems like a devoted father and I think he really doesn’t want to endanger his children but they are being exposed to very poor modelling around impulse control, trust, reliability and feeling safe in the most important place in their lives - their home.
They are also being put in the position of having to worry about their parent and this switch in roles can be quite frightening for young children.
So.. I think you had already made the decision to confront this .
You need to put strong boundaries around yourself and the children.
Tell him you love him but his relationship with alcohol is NOT welcome in the family.
Together you will work to make the changes necessary so that he can be in the family, but not his alcohol abuse.
Book a LONG appointment with your GP and start there.
Try and find an AL-anon meeting close by and see if that helps..
Read up and call help lines .. you might feel less alone .
Go Melly!! You are on the right track already .. whats happening isn’t fair .. so now its time to take action.
Hi Dr Kim,
Im new to this and Melly has written my life in this post. I am really intrigued and want to read the links you suggested but they’re not visible. Is there a way to get them?